Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus


Elizabeth Zott could take over the world. She is data-driven and immensely capable. Life didn't come easy for Elizabeth. Her parents were uncaring charlatans and her brother, who she adored, died tragically. In a time when women weren't taken seriously, and women in sciences even less so, she worked tirelessly to earn a seat at a table full of sexist men.


Elizabeth loves fiercely and deeply. Yet, she struggles to experience secure attachments in her romantic and personal life.


Attachment styles are feeling and behavior-based patterns in close relationships. These patterns are shaped by the relationships people experience with their primary caregivers (frequently parents).


The attachment style between Elizabeth and her parents is avoidant / dismissive. Mom and dad ensured her most basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) were met but provided no emotional support. Elizabeth adapted to this by ignoring her feelings and developing bravado independence. She can take care of herself, thank you very much.


Let's teach Elizabeth how to move from an insecure/avoidant attachment style (which keeps people at an emotional distance) to a secure attachment style (which would allow her to trust her partner enough to be emotionally available).


The first step is to practice being vulnerable. There are several ways to do this:


1. Share something personal.

2. Tell people if they've hurt or upset you.

3. Admit when you don't know something.

4. Apologize when you've made a mistake.

5. Ask for help.


Maybe if Elizabeth had taken these steps, she would not have to be so fiercely independent. And, she would have been able to experience the platonic and romantic relationships in her life at a deeper level. Then, Elizabeth’s relationships would have more resembled the very stable ionic bonds rather than the less predictable hydrogen ones. As Elizabeth herself says: “Courage is the root of change—and change is what we’re chemically designed to do.”

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